The past month has served the North Carolina rowing team well.
This past weekend, the UNC team had a strong showing at the Sunshine State Invitational in Sarasota, Florida. Competing against seven other schools, including conference foes Clemson and Miami in the 2,000-meter events, the Tar Heels earned gold in the 3V8 race and placed second in two other fixtures.
“We kind of went into it not knowing what was going to happen,” first-year Ashley Lim said about the 3V8 team’s result. “From the beginning in both of our races it was really good and strong. All the hard work we put in really paid off during that moment I think.”
Lim acted as the coxswain for the 3V8 boat in both the Friday heat and the Saturday final. As coxswain, Lim has the important role of sitting at the stern of the boat, facing the bow and acting as a conductor for her teammates.
“Our coxswain does a great job of keeping us focused and asking for more,” senior Maddie Omeltchenko said of Lim.
The 3V8 team was strong from the start, cruising to a victory in Friday’s heat with a time of 7:03.20, more than four seconds faster than Clemson in second place.
Even after the encouraging start, Lim knew she and the eight other members of her boat needed to improve in next day’s final.
“For every single competition that we enter, I kind of make sure that the boat and all of us realize we aren’t going into it thinking we’re going to win,” Lim said. “But go in to push every single stroke and the result will come out how it is.”
The focus explains the team’s encore performance — a time of 6:53.40 — almost nine seconds better than their heat time, and a no-doubt victory over the three other boats in the fixture.
“We went into it not expecting to be up, but (to) have Clemson right on our tail and see better races from UCF and Jacksonville,” Omeltchenko said. “Right from the start we were up on three other boats, started to leave Clemson in the dust and with 500 meters left we were so in our own race.”
The impressive showing from the 3V8 comes just two weeks after the members were honored as ACC Crew of the Week following an undefeated weekend against Temple and St. Joseph’s on March 24 and a first-place finish in the Cooper Sprints on March 25. Only one member of this weekend’s boat was not on the crew that earned Crew of the Week — sophomore Corinne Martin.
In addition to the first-place finish, two other Tar Heel boats made news, earning silver in the 2V8 and V4 events. Head coach Sarah Haney sees the success from her team as a testament to the level of commitment they’ve put forth.
“There’s a different level of commitment to win,” Haney said. “A different level of belief in themselves and what they’re able to accomplish.”
Next up on the agenda? One final tuneup against Georgetown on April 28 in Raleigh before the cessation of the season — the ACC Championship on May 13 in Clemson, South Carolina.
“So we’ve been saying we want to come in sixth,” Haney said. “Nine schools in our conference. We’ve always come in eighth or ninth. We want to see sixth based on the level of talent.”
Coming in sixth place is certainly a possibility, having beaten both Clemson and Miami in competitions over the weekend.
The 3V8 boat looks for improvement at this year’s ACCs after making it to the grand finals last year, a big step for the program.
“We have a good shot at grand finals again this year," Omeltchenko said, "and we are really excited to see how far up that chain we can go at ACCs."
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